Italy Mourns an Ambassador and His Bodyguard, Killed in Congo

Italians on Tuesday mourned the loss of life of Luca Attanasio, the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, who was killed in an ambush along with his bodyguard and their driver whereas participating in a humanitarian convoy with the World Meals Program.

The nationwide media had been filled with tributes to Mr. Attanasio, 43, who was lauded because the youthful and humanitarian face of Italian diplomacy, and with detailed accounts of his remaining hours earlier than his loss of life on Monday.

Mr. Attanasio’s killing struck a deep nerve in Italy, which has been beneath pressure over the previous yr due to the lethal coronavirus pandemic and a political disaster that created weeks of turmoil and uncertainty. Many Italians additionally stay delicate to the destiny of their nationals overseas following the brutal killing of a graduate scholar, Giulio Regeni, in Egypt in 2016.

Footage of Mr. Attanasio smiling and surrounded by Congolese youngsters or posing along with his spouse and three small daughters, dominated the entrance pages of Italy’s dailies and their web sites.

“Luca and Vittorio. The very best of Italy,” learn the headline of the Turin-based each day La Stampa, referring to Vittorio Iacovacci, the 30-year-old Italian navy police officer who died with the ambassador and their Congolese driver, Mustapha Milambo of the World Meals Program.

“His Africa,” learn the headline on the entrance web page of the left-leaning each day Il Manifesto, displaying a selfie taken by the ambassador, his proper thumb up, with two Congolese youngsters.

“Yesterday I couldn’t specific to his household the deep sorrow of your complete Overseas Ministry and our honest closeness,” Elisabetta Belloni, the ministry’s secretary common, wrote in an editorial within the each day Corriere della Sera. “As a result of silence and emotion prevailed.”

“Luca was a beneficiant one who needed to do good,” Ms. Belloni mentioned. “He believed that Italy — with the European Union and the United Nations — might play an necessary function to advertise growth and peace. To this objective he devoted himself with humbleness, but in addition with absolute dedication and preparedness.”

Pope Francis on Tuesday expressed his condolences to the victims’ households, the diplomatic corps and the navy police “for the disappearance of those servants of peace and legislation.”

Prosecutors in Rome began an investigation into the accident, sending a crew of investigators to Goma, the capital of North Kivu, close to the place the killings passed off. The president and the highest-ranking officers of the Democratic Republic of Congo pledged to resolve the tragedy, which passed off in an space close to the border with Rwanda that’s recognized for violence.

Dozens of armed teams compete in kidnappings and violent actions within the space, with rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the largest international armed group working in Congo. The insurgent group on Tuesday denied any involvement within the assault, saying that their males had been removed from the realm.

On Tuesday, the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi, and his spouse, met with Mr. Attanasio’s spouse, Zakia Seddiki, who’s the president of a nongovernmental group in Congo that helps girls and youngsters in want.

In a press release learn on nationwide TV, Mr. Tshisekedi mentioned the federal government had despatched a crew of investigators to Goma “in order that gentle is shed on these heinous crimes as quickly as attainable.”

It was unclear whether or not Mr. Attanasio and his bodyguard had been shot as a part of a kidnapping try gone incorrect, or whether or not he was murdered throughout an change of gunfire between the armed group, and park rangers and a Congolese Military unit close by.

Mr. Attanasio was headed to Rutshuru, within the north, to go to a World Meals Program mission to feed college youngsters, partially funded by the Italian authorities, in a convoy of two vehicles. The World Meals Program mentioned the highway that they took had beforehand been cleared for journey with out safety escorts.

The evening earlier than the assault, Mr. Attanasio and Mr. Iacovacci dined with a small group of Italian expatriates in Goma.

“He mentioned he admired our work on the entrance traces and was happy with us right here,” Miriam Ruscio, the Italian head of applications for the help group AVSI within the Democratic Republic of Congo, who attended the dinner, mentioned of Mr. Attanasio.

“It’s devastating to know that he’s gone,” Ms. Ruscio mentioned.

In Mr. Attanasio’s hometown, Limbiate, close to Milan, Mayor Antonio Romeo mentioned he would identify the city’s forthcoming cultural middle after the ambassador.

“He was happy with his hometown within the province, and liked easy issues,” Mr. Romeo mentioned. “We’ll miss him dearly.”

A navy aircraft will convey the our bodies of the 2 Italians to Rome, the place a medical crew will conduct an post-mortem to attempt to decide the reason for their loss of life.

“We’re devastated, it’s an incommensurable loss,” Salvatore Attanasio, the ambassador’s father, mentioned in a video interview revealed by the Italian information company Ansa. “These are unjust issues that ought to by no means ever occur.”

Steve Wembi contributed reporting from Kinshasa.

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